Claudia in her studio at The Wolcott Center on Fawn St. in Norfolk 2011
Claudia Croneberger was born in Washington, D.C. on May 17, 1961. She began drawing at the age of two when she drew a remarkably life like seal. In second grade her teacher complained to her mother about her math. The teacher said that Claudia was turning all of her numbers in to little cartoon characters. Her mother asked if the answers were correct, which they were, so she did not see a problem and told the teacher so. In middle school she designed a humorous campaign poster which depicted Jimmy Carter urging voters to elect him for his great peanuts and kindness to women and children.
3 years old
Claudia’s art has always leaned toward the humorous. She says she inherited her sense of humor from her father, who was a computer salesman for I.B.M. and lifelong member of Toastmasters. He had a great personality and often spoke with “tongue in cheek”. Claudia’s mother was a wardrobe mistress at a theater during the 60’s and Claudia spent every evening at the theater memorizing every line. One of her dreams has always been to one day star in Funny Girl. Claudia’s mother said that she would spend hours singing along with musicals. She still does. Claudia Croneberger has always loved every kind of art. “It’s in my blood”. Claudia’s Grandfather, Claude Arnold , whom she was named after, painted scenery for the theater during the 1920’s. Claudia’s mother was also a very talented watercolor artist.
Claudia, her mother Bette Bradshaw, brother Jeff and Film Star Gloria Swanson at Shady Grove Music Fair 1960's
Claudia took ballet and tap lessons throughout her pre teen years. When she was 12 years old she started her music career playing the flute in the school band. By the time she was 15 she was playing flute in the Savannah Jr. Symphony. During the late 70’s, Claudia played and sang in a local Virginia Beach rock band called “Destiny”. After high school, Claudia spent over 20 years working in retail.
Destiny playing at The Wharf Inn, Virginia Beach 1979
When asked how she got the idea for her mermaids, Claudia said she saw some metal sculptures in an art gallery in St. Pete of lizards which she admired. She thought,” I bet I could make that out of Paper Mache”, so when she got home she made a big purple lizard. She had so much fun doing that, she decided to make something else. She has always loved being near the water, so she decided to make a mermaid. Everyone who saw it said she should make more and sell them. Her work has progressed into other imaginary whimsical creatures.
On New Years Day in 2004, Claudia announced that life was too short not to have one, so she quit her 60 hour a week management job and decided to pursue her art and be home more for her family. She began working at Java Art and selling her mermaids there. “I put a piece of my heart in to each one. Most of the pieces I sell have gone to people I have met. It is kind of like letting my children grow up and live somewhere else. I like knowing they are going to good homes and that they will be loved”.
You can’t help but love Claudia’s artwork. Each piece is unique and her streak of humor is evident in the whimsical expressions of her creations. “The thing I like most about my mermaids is that they make people smile.”
Much of Claudias work is symbolic of stories in the Bible. It is her belief that stories of old are still relevant today. Much of her work takes familiar passages, adds a whimsical twist, and encourages further exploration. "I do not believe there is just one way of looking at things. I love to explore the "what if". As God is infinate, so are our imaginations."
“I have never been happier”, Claudia says. I have 4 wonderful children, and I am married to my best friend and the love of my life. “My husband is my constant source of support and inspiration.” Claudia loves being with her family. She is active in her community as well. She teaches Sunday school and sings in the choir at Ocean View Presbyterian Church where she also serves on the session as an active Elder. “I believe it is important to devote time to the community and to help people.”
Claudia is currently working toward a degree in fine art and teaches art classes part time to children at various schools. She exhibits in shows up and down the east coast and in several galleries. She is a member of the Hampton Arts League and the Chesapeake Bay Art Association.
“My objective with my art is to share hope and joy with others, while giving them things to ponder for further exploration or simply enjoy.”
BIO UPDATE! I moved to Naples, Italy with my husband in November of 2013. I am enjoying the new cultural experience and continuing my artistic journey. ~CLAUDIA